Clean Run - June 2012 - (Page 59)

Agility Mind Gym Visualization By Kathy Keats We often joke about how good we would be if we could run the course a couple of times before we had to compete. By improving your visualization skills, you can have this same advantage. You may have heard that the mind can’t tell the difference between a vividly imagined experience and real life. That’s why you can wake up from a dream and wonder if you were dreaming or if it actually happened. Studies have been done with elite skiers that show that when they visualize a ski run, the neurons in their muscles are firing in the exact same patterns they would if the skiers were actually skiing the course, but below the threshold that would cause the muscle to do a full movement. When you visualize handling a course, you are programming your muscles to run on autopilot, just as if you have run the course a few times. There are several components to using visualization successfully. Duration Your work from the last article on focusing for a longer period of time comes in handy here. The longer the duration of your visualization, the more ingrained the images become. When you first start visualizing, you may find that you can only hold the images for short periods of time before your mind drifts. As soon as you’ve noticed your mind has drifted, simply refocus on the visualization again. As you become better, you will be able to hold your visualizations for longer periods of time before getting distracted. This also has the added benefit of improving your ability to focus. Accuracy Although it seems to go without saying, it’s important you are visualizing the correct things. If you picture the wrong obstacle or a front cross that you can’t get to, you won’t improve your performance. This is where the art of visualization comes in. You need to be a student of the game of agility, so you can make accurate assessments of what needs to happen. If you can visualize really well, you can do a test run and “see” and “feel” whether or not you will make it to that front cross and how the dog will react to your movements; almost like being in an agility simulator. The key is that you must include the dog accurately in the visualization. Where is he going to land, where is he looking, where is the line taking him, will he be collected or extended? Most people just visualize themselves and their course, but don’t really see the dog in the picture, or at least not very clearly. This is because most people don’t see the dog when they actually run a course, because they’re so intent on remembering the course. That’s a big reason why many people struggle to have vivid agility visualizations. Vividness The more vivid the visualization, the more real it will seem to your mind. Use as much color, sound, texture, smell, taste, and sense of movement that you can. You can picture yourself first as if on a television or watching yourself on video having a great run. Studies have shown that amateur golfers swing better after watching professionals, because the image in the amateurs’ mind is of a smooth, rhythmic swing. Then shift your visualization so that you are looking out of your own eyes, the virtual reality version. Make it as real and believable as possible, so when the moment comes to actually perform, it will seem like déjà vu— you’ve already run it. Frequency Like practicing anything else, the more often you use visualization, the better at it you become and the stronger the image becomes in your mind. Try to visualize your goals three times per day. Right before you go to sleep is a great time to visualize because your subconscious mind takes over and you are more open to suggestion. June 12 | Clean Run Intensity One of the most important components to making visualization effective is to attach emotion to it. The more intense the experience, the stronger the 59

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - June 2012

Clean Run - June 2012
Editorializing: The Other Bank Account
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Backyard Dogs
Awesome Paws Drills: Skills Checklist, Part 3
On the Road Again: Safety Measures for Driving with Your Dog
Challenges for Rising Stars
Proofing Your Dog’s Weave Pole Performance
Knowledge Equals Speed! Positive Training Routines
Analyze This!
Perfecting Nutrition for Performance Dogs
Why Dogs Sniff and What to Do About It
Building Blocks: Building Skills Around the Tunnel
From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers
New & Common Therapies for Treating Injuries in the Canine Athlete
Agility Mind Gym: Visualization
Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: Shy & Overwhelmed

Clean Run - June 2012